Full power expected to be restored Sunday

Shawntaye Hopkins

Class is in session on top of the Hill, but the effects of a recent power outage linger.

The buildings that experienced a power failure last week will regain 100 percent power this weekend when the broken electrical cables that caused the outage are replaced by a contractor.

“We are very confident that we’ll be able to have everything back on line for Monday,” Facilities Management Director Doug Ault said.

It has been determined that a cable made from aluminum caused the outage, and a price tag on the repairs has also been established, he said.

Ault said $25,000 to $30,000 of Western’s $2.6 million utility budget will be spent on the replacement.

D&M Electric, a university contractor, began pulling out old cables and determining the extent of the damage Sunday, Ault said.

The old cable was made of aluminum and probably about 50 years old, Ault said.

He said the cable was less heat resistance than copper wires, which is what caused the damage that resulted in the power outage.

The existing conduit was not damaged, and new wires will be installed over the weekend.

But the repairs are going to take longer than expected because more cables were damaged than he thought, Ault said. Facilities had originally not planned to do repairs on Saturday.

Students, faculty and staff can expect some changes until the cables are fixed.

There are limited services in Garrett Food Court because of the failure.

The Helm computer lab was closed after the power outage until last Thursday. Now only about half of the computers are available for use.

Stephanie Draper, a computer lab operations manager, said there isn’t enough power to run the air conditioning in the lab.

There have been heating problems because of the lab’s location and because computers and printers produce heat, she said.

“We’ve been taking it day by day, which is the best thing to do,” Draper said.

If the lab becomes too hot it will close for a period of time, she said.

The lab in Cherry Hall is closed until 100 percent power is regained, but the labs in Thompson Complex and Grise Hall are open.

The new 24-hour lab in the Mass Media and Technology Hall has been open since Nov. 10.

Masako Barnaby, coordinator for student technology, said many students may not realize the new lab is open.

The failure happened on Nov. 11 in Cherry Hall, Gordon Wilson Hall, Van Meter Hall, Potter Hall, Helm Library and Garrett Center. The buildings are currently running at 50 percent electrical capacity.

A notice was sent by Facilities Management on Nov. 11 asking people in the buildings to conserve as much energy as possible by not using any unnecessary items such as coffee makers and space heaters.

Even after the cables are fixed, more power outages could occur.

Facilities Management is currently involved in an eight phase project to replace all the electrical distribution on campus.

The distribution is being replaced because the wires are old and because Western is converting to a more modern voltage system, he said.

“There is a chance we could have additional problems until we get these replaced,” Ault said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]